Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for a briefing on the Middle Eastern settlement process. We also followed closely the remarks by UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Ms. Leni Stenseth.
Another spiral of escalation in the area of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict once again showed the danger and destructiveness of the lacking peace process, which was in fact obstructed by our colleagues on the Council in the interests of one of the sides. Against the spread of occupying and military activities by Israel, the Palestinian news chronicle has turned into a series of reports of killings, arbitrary arrests, inhumane treatment of prisoners, forced evictions, expropriations and demolition of property. We cited the corresponding statistics at one of our previous meetings.
Beginning of year 2023 was marked by another series of destabilizing provocative steps: visit by Israeli National Security Minister I.Ben-Gvir to Al Aqsa mosque compound; deadly raids by Israeli military in Jenin followed by terrorist attacks in Eastern Jerusalem; decision of Israeli authorities to legalize nine outposts and endorse plans for construction of approximately 10 thousand housings in the West Bank. This being said, Israel’s plans to have the number of settlers residing in the Jordan Valley and the Syrian Golan Heights doubled by 2026 can be considered as de-facto annexation of the most part of the occupied Palestinian and also Syrian territory. We support the PRST on this matter that was adopted today.
We resolutely condemn Israeli air strikes against Syria that add to the destabilization in the Middle East. Such developments raise our profound concern. We call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint and preclude further escalation, especially when taking into account the fact that tension traditionally exacerbates around religious holidays, in particular the upcoming month of Ramadan that is sacred to all Muslims.
The recent developments clearly showed that constructive Palestinian-Israeli dialogue needs to resume without delay and all unilateral action must be renounced. This vicious circle of violence may be disrupted only by a negotiations process that should rest upon principles of international law and result in establishment of an independent Palestinian state in 1967 borders coexisting in peace and security with Israel. The absence of a political horizon combined with Israel's increase of unilateral steps undermines both the basis for settlement and also credibility of the peace process as such, which leads to radicalization on both sides.
With this background, there is a consistent degradation of the overall social and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories that occurs despite Israel’s declarative efforts on economic assistance to Palestinians. In these circumstances, we need to make sure that UNRWA carries on with its effective efforts for providing comprehensive assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and also the neighboring Arab states. Therefore, we call on the international donors to respond to UNRWA’s emergency request for 2.7 million USDs to fund aid for Palestinian refugees who suffered from an earthquake in Türkiye and Syria.
We believe that in this alarming context, it is our primary task to achieve reliable stabilization on the ground and recover the political horizon in order to revive the Middle East peace process on a universally recognized international legal basis with the two-state solution as its centerpiece. Apart from that, inter-Palestinian reconciliation needs to be promoted, because it is key for recovery of the peace process.
As a Permanent Member of the Security Council and member of the Quartet of international intermediaries for the Middle East, Russia is ready to contribute meaningfully to comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We believe that attempts to usurp “external supervision” of contacts between the sides are counter-productive and contrary to the innate interests of the two peoples. In particular, the United States acts in a destructive manner, as it has blocked all existing international formats for supporting the Middle Eastern settlement and tries to substitute the real political peace with an economic one. Attempts to promote Arab-Israeli normalization while bypassing search for a just solution to the Palestinian problem are very dangerous. We regret that Washington brings this approach to the UNSC platform, where the US is doing its best to prevent adoption of any decisions that Palestinians need.